Two significant things happened in early April. First, the Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi finally signed off on a Bill that bans online games like rummy or poker, the addiction to which has become a growing social menace in the State. Second, MeitY released IT (Amendment) Rules 2023, which made online wagering and betting illegal.
While the former might be hailed as a political victory for M.K. Stalin against R.N. Ravi, neither move has pleased the large nascent industry that has mushroomed around the world of virtual games. The reason is twofold. On the one hand, the makers of video games such as Indus Battle Royale, Mumbai Gullies, or Raji: An Ancient Epic are up in arms that their pure entertainment and leisure activity is being clubbed with online gambling under the common nomenclature of “online games”. On the other hand, the makers of Online Real Money Games or RMGs (so called because players wager hard cash) want to continue under the umbrella term to avoid scrutiny.
With online games alone projected to touch $1.8 billion in market value by 2026, the reason for the angst is obvious. Harish Chengaiah, games designer and entrepreneur, argues for clarity in nomenclature while asking that the sector come under what he says is its logical home, the I&B Ministry.
Ilangovan Rajasekaran traces the politics of the Bill in Tamil Nadu while Eshwar Sundaresan interviews Dr Jayant Mahadevan of NIMHANS to understand the nature of addiction, online or offline. But is banning a solution at all? Ayesha Minhaz examines this in the light of the legalities around the amendment.
This issue has other highlights—a special section on Vivan Sundaram, the iconic artist who died on March 29; a piece on how India’s national animal is faring 50 years after Project Tiger; and a deep dive into Israel’s political crisis by former ambassador Talmiz Ahmad.
Worth every minute of your time, wouldn’t you say?
Read the issue here.